Will Large Ripple on Tummy After Tuck Go Away?(photo)

I am post op 4 weeks from a tummy tuck. I am very pleased with the results, however, since day 1 I have noticed a large vertical ripple/wave on the left side (right side in pic) of my tummy and I fear it won't flatten out. The nurse said it is the rectus muscle and I should massage it, but I don't feel muscle underneath as much as it seems to be just skin, as if it wasn't pulled horizontally enough. Is this normal or am I going to be stuck with this stretched look for good?!

Doctor Answers 9

Will Large Ripple on Tummy After Tuck Go Away?(photo)

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Great posted photo of an issue I have NEVER seen. Could it be a piece of a drain? Or maybe irregularity if you had a scar in the area, but the photo shows no scar. Or poor "quilting" sutures if no drain was used. Very convening, BEST TO SEE ONLY THE SURGEON! 

Ripple on Tummy After Tummy Tuck? #tummytuck

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Thank you for posting a picture with your question. So this could be several things. It could be that you required more undermining of the skin in that area, or it could be from suturing to the abdominal wall if this was done. Also, after surgery all the lymphatics have been severed to the abdominal skin flap and it takes 3 months or more for lymphedema to resolve. This is why constant compression and even lymphatic massage with a specialist can really smooth out these areas over time. It is too early for any of us to really know how this will heal, but if you were my patient I would encourage you to try and be patient for up to 6 months. I know it is so hard to sit back and wait when you have been waiting for this day for so long, but the healing process takes time. Down the road if this ripple still exists I am sure you surgeon will guide you through your choices.

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Ripples on abdomen after tummy tuck

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Thanks for your question and your pictures.  Based on your comments that no drains were used, you likely had some quilting sutures placed.  These sutures are usually dissolvable (6-12 weeks depending on type of suture) and the rippling should improve with time.  The best person to talk to about this would be your surgeon.  Overall, your result does look very good.  

Naveen Setty, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

It will get better

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I would agree with Dr.Hopkins. Please check with your surgeon and if he/she used quilting stitches ,it will resolve. If your surgeon did not,then it is due to undermining and will improve by time and if not,will improve by liposuction. 

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Ripple after abdominoplasty

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An unusual  finding, but it is still early and may improve with time.  It is too early to consider any surgical intervention, but you should discuss this with your surgeon, especially if the nurse left you with questions about your progress.

Harlan Pollock, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon

Ripple may go away

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Your surgeon is the best person to answer this question.  I suspect that internal quilting sutures may be the cause.  If it is the cause, it goes away in the first month or two and rarely lasts permanently, unless it was intended (but not in this location).  Check in with your doctor for reassurance.

Michael S. Hopkins, MD (retired)
Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon

Ripple on the side of abdominoplasty result

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Thanks for your question.  It appears the lateral ripple of your abdomen after the abdominoplasty is a result of inadequate lateral undermining of the skin to allow the abdominal skin to redrape smoothly.  When the skin is not undermined enough as you pull the skin flap down vertically the fibrous septae that attaches the skin laterally will cause a traction ridge to form.  This may diminish over time depending how the skin shrinks and attaches after it has healed.  Wearing a tight compression garment may shrink the skin on the medial portion of the abdomen to help skin recontour during the healing phase.  If it does not go away after a year then further undermining of the skin may be necessary. 

Benjamin Chu, MD, FACS
Honolulu Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Vertical Ripple 4 Weeks after Tummy Tuck

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    I will admit that this does look odd, but preoperative pictures may shed some light on this problem.  Any liposuction done at the same time would be a factor as well as the placement of the drain or drains if used.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA


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Liposuction for Obese Patient? Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity and should be discouraged. Abdominal liposuction for an obese patient will not achieve a flat abdomen as there is also plenty of fat behind the abdominal wall within the abdominal cavity. Try to loose at least 50 pounds more and then you may be a candidate.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.